TWSBI's Diamond 580AL is a complete improvement upon their standard 580AL which was renown for it's terrible build quality, poor aesthetics and disastrous longevity. TWSBI have taken the standard 580AL, replaced the plastic (which was known to crack) with stronger aluminium, added some chrome accents and raised the price to create the new TWSBI Diamond 580AL.
To prevent a repeat of their last flop, TWSBI invested a lot of their time into researching exactly what design us fountain pen enthusiasts want. They did this through collaborating with the Fountain Pen Network community, to present their ideas and receive feedback. Eventually, they were able to create a design which not only they were happy with but the network also loved and the Diamond 580AL was born.
Body Material: Plastic/Aluminum
Length (capped): 14.3cm
Length (uncapped): 13cm
Nib material: Steel
Weight (all): 32 g
Weight (cap): 10 g
Filling system: Piston
TWSBI's Diamond 580AL comes in a range of colour highlights to compliment the transparent body, such as blue, orange and purple. The blue in particular does a great job of supplementing the clear barrel, in order to create a stylish aesthetic. Because of the transparent body, you're able to see the ink swishing around in the barrel; the ink swishing visual can certainly keep you captivated in moments of boredom. Some transparent bodied pens can look abit tacky if they're plastic made, fortunately the aluminium and chrome accents do an amazing job at making the pen look futuristic and prestige.
To match the theme of the pen, the cap is also transparent with subtle chrome highlights. Therefore you're able to see the larger nib in all of it's full glory. The transparent cap also features a band with deep and clean engravements of the brand name and pen model It's safe to say, the cap further adds to the fashionable aesthetic of the pen.
TWSBI have also done a phenomenal job at creating the best unboxing experience possible. The Diamond 580AL comes in what looks like a cheap wooden rectangular box sporting a simple TWSBI logo. However, once you open it, the pen is held in a futuristic plastic case strapped by fancy clippings. The unboxing experience is sure to generate excitement straight away!
As previously mentioned, the standard 580AL was known to be poorly constructed. TWSBI received a great amount of complaints about the plastic body cracking within weeks of using the pen. Therefore with the Diamond 580AL, they've swapped out all of the plastic parts that were prone to crack for aluminium parts. This has not only resulted in a pen that is stronger, more durable and has better longevity but a pen that feels 10 times as premium than the standard.
The only downside about the cold-feeling barrel is it is prone to fingerprint marks; after a day of heavy use, don't be surprised to see the transparent body covered in fingerprints. However, maybe it's harsh to criticise the barrel as this can be mitigated with a simple wipe. However, there is a more serious drawback regarding the cap. Because the cap is transparent, it does get splashed by ink from the nib. Both of these downsides mean you're going to have to clean the Diamond 580AL more often than the majority of other fountain pens.
As for the rest of the Diamond 580AL, every aspect is both functional and sturdy. Despite the cap being prone to ink splashes, it fits tight and minimises the air that can reach the nib so that it doesn't dry out. The nib feels sturdy, well held and even has a nice bounce to it. And as previously mentioned, the barrel feels exceptionally strong.
The Diamond 580Al is on the larger and heavier side of most fountain pens. This is due to TWSBI making the decision to swap out the lightweight plastic for the heavier aluminium. Despite it being heavier, without the cap posted the weight feels well distributed and balanced. Therefore, writing for extended sessions still feels comfortable and far from tiring. However, when you post this pen, it starts to feel abit like a wand. It becomes terribly unbalanced and it's even greater length becomes a nuisance.
Like the majority of the pen, the grip section is also made out of aluminium. Usually, aluminium grip sections tend to get slippery after longer writing sessions where your hands start to get sweaty; but TWSBI have done a great job at minimising this. Instead, there's just enough texture for you to create a good grip which will last for a while.
For all the faults of the standard TWSBI 580AL, it was still an exceptional writer. The Diamond 580AL is no different. The steel nib that it comes with is smooth yet firm, presenting just the slightest amount of feedback. The DIamond 580AL is certainly on the juicier side, creating the smoothest and wettest of lines. However, that does mean it may take a tad longer to dry on most paper. The feed is also exceptional, you're not going to encounter any hard-starting or skipping whilst using this pen for sure.
Even if you're not happy with the exceptional nibs that the Diamond 580AL is shipped with, you can still swap them out as it supports interchangeable nibs. And a great benefit of this is TWSBI make some of the best nibs in the world and they're really not that expensive. This pen can therefore keep you entertained for years to come.
The Diamond 580AL does not support a cartridge/converter system, instead it relies on a piston-filling mechanism. You turn the piston, you dip the nib into your bottle of ink, you turn the piston back into its original position and the ink is sucked up into the chamber. It really is that simple!
Not only is it so simplistic, it's also creates no mess at all. It's very rare that any process involving a bottle of ink is not messy but this is as clean as it gets. Another advantage of the piston filling mechanism is it's large ink capacity. Even the heaviest users are going to get a lot of use out of one refill.
As for cleaning, the Diamond 580AL comes with a wrench to help you dissemble the piston and rest of the pen. With the use of the wrench, the dissembling and re-assembling process can be done within a matter of minutes. Furthermore, once dissembled, you have great access into every facet of the pen for easy cleaning
Value for Money & Conclusion
Priced between £60 to £80 depending on where you look, the TWSBI Diamond 580AL is one of the best value fountain pens on the market today. For the price you're paying and the quality you're getting, it should be a staple in any fountain pen enthusiast's collection.